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Restrictions Extended, Vaccination Registrations Increasing

In Hungary

Chief Medical Officer Cecília Müller receives her Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine against coronavirus from Róbert J. Bedros, head physician and general director of Szent Imre University Teaching Hospital, in Budapest on January 13, 2021.

Photo by MTI / Zoltán Balogh

Hungary will extend restrictions in place to contain the spread of coronavirus until February 1, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán said in a weekly interview on Kossuth Rádió on January 8. An evening curfew will remain in place and students in grades 9-12 will continue their schooling online, Orbán announced. Hungary introduced its curfew between 8 p.m. and 5 a.m. early in November.

More than one million Hungarians have registered for COVID-19 vaccinations, State Secretary Csaba Dömötör said in a message posted on his Facebook page on January 6. Dömötör explained that 632,000 people have put their names forward via the vakcinainfo.gov.hu website and another 391,000 have registered by post.

Vaccination not only protects against disease, but also against fear, said János Szlávik, chief infectologist of the South Pest Central Hospital on the news channel M1. As time goes on, more and more people will want to vaccinate themselves, the expert said.

As the number of new coronavirus infections and deaths from the disease have been declining for several days, the chief physician reminded people to continue to be careful, adhere to protective measures, and wait for the vaccine.

Deliveries of the COVID-19 vaccine developed by BioNTech and Pfizer have been arriving steadily since 10,000 doses were first delivered on December 26. A second delivery with 70,000 doses arrived on December 30, and another 39,000 doses arrived on January 5 and 12, according to koronavirus.gov.hu.

Moderna Arrives

Hungary received its first delivery of the Moderna vaccine on January 12, Ágnes Galgóczi, the head of the pandemic department of the National Public Health Center (NNK) said at a press briefing, according to koronavirus.gov.hu. Hungary will get 3,600 doses of the Moderna vaccine, Galgóczi said.

She added there is “no real difference” between the two vaccines; the BioNTech/Pfizer vaccine is being delivered weekly, while shipments of the Moderna vaccine will arrive biweekly. Hungary is expecting to get 1.744 million doses of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine, enough to inoculate 872,000 people.

To date, nearly 21,000 healthcare workers have been vaccinated at the 25 vaccination points currently in operation, the Chief Medical Officer Cecília Müller said at an online press conference given by the Operational Corps responsible for fighting the coronavirus epidemic, according to koronavirus.gov.hu.

In accordance with the vaccination plan, in addition to vaccinating healthcare workers, the workers and residents of nursing homes have also been receiving inoculations, the Coronavirus Press Center informed state news agency MTI.

A Chinese COVID-19 vaccine could be available sooner and in greater quantities than another one being developed in Russia, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán said in an interview on Kossuth Rádió on January 3.

“We know that the Russian vaccine is good, but there isn’t enough and there probably won’t be enough because there are production capacity limitations,” he said. Hungary will get millions of doses of COVID-19 vaccine under a joint European Union order from pharmaceutical companies in the West, but it has also looked into getting vaccines being developed in Russia, China and Israel.

This article was first published in the Budapest Business Journal print issue of January 15, 2021.

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